Weekly Torah Portions

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Rav Zilber in Russian
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HaShem tells Moshe that He is hardening Pharaoh's heart so that through miraculous plagues the world will know for all time that He is the one true G-d. Pharaoh is warned about the plague of locusts and is told how severe it will be. Pharaoh agrees to release only the men, but Moshe insists that everyone must go.

During the plague, Pharaoh calls for Moshe and Aharon to remove the locusts, and he admits that he has sinned. HaShem ends the plague but hardens Pharaoh's heart and again Pharaoh fails to free the Beney Yisrael. The country, except for the Jewish People, is then engulfed in a palpable darkness. 

Pharaoh calls for Moshe, and tells him to take all the Jews out of Egypt, and to leave their flocks behind. Moshe tells him not only will they take their own flocks, but Pharaoh must add his own too. Moshe tells Pharaoh that HaShem is going to bring one more plague, the death of the firstborn, and then the Children of Yisrael will leave Egypt.

HaShem again hardens Pharaoh's heart, and Pharaoh warns Moshe that if he sees him again he will be put to death. HaShem tells Moshe that the month of Nisan will be the first month in the calendar year. The Beney Yisrael are commanded to take a sheep on the tenth of the month, and guard it until the fourteenth. The sheep is then to be slaughtered as a Pesach sacrifice, its blood put on their door-posts, and its roasted meat to be eaten. The blood on the door-post will be a sign to HaShem to pass-over their homes when He strikes the firstborn of Egypt. The Jewish People are told to memorialize this day as the Exodus from Egypt by never eating chamets on Pesach. Moshe relays HaShem's commands, and the Jewish People perform them flawlessly. HaShem sends the final plague, killing the firstborn, and Pharaoh sends the Jews out of Egypt. HaShem tells Moshe and Aharon the laws concerning the Pesach sacrifice, pidyon haben (the redemption of the firstborn son), and tefillin.

Warning

    God said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh. I have made him and his advisors stubborn, so that I will be able to demonstrate these miraculous signs among them. You will then be able to confide to your children and grandchildren how I made fools of the Egyptians, and how I performed miraculous signs among them. You will then fully realize that I am God."

    Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh. In the name of God, Lord of the Hebrews, they said to him, "How long will you refuse to submit to Me? Let My people leave and serve Me.  If you refuse to let My people leave, I will bring locusts to your territories tomorrow. They will cover every visible speck of land, so that you will not be able to see the ground, and they will eat all that was spared for you by the hail, devouring every tree growing in the field.  They will fill your palaces, as well as the houses of your officials and of all Egypt. It will be something that your fathers and your fathers' fathers have never seen, since the day they were in the land."
   With that, [Moses] turned his back and left Pharaoh.

     Pharaoh's officials said to him, "How long will this [man] continue to be a menace to us? Let the men go, and let them serve God their Lord. Don't you yet realize that Egypt is being destroyed?"

   Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. "Go serve God your Lord," he said. "But exactly who will be going?"
    "Young and old alike will go," replied Moses. "We will go with our sons and our daughters, with our sheep and cattle. It is a festival to God for [all of] us.

   "May God only be with you just as I will let you leave with your children!" replied Pharaoh. "You must realize that you will be confronted by evil.  But that's not the way it will be. Let the males go and worship God, if that's really what you want!" With that, he had them expelled from his presence.

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Locusts: The Eighth Plague

   God said to Moses, "Extend your hand over Egypt [to bring] the locusts, and they will emerge on Egypt. They will eat all the foliage in the land that was spared by the hail."

   Moses raised his hand over Egypt, and all that day and night, God made an east wind blow over the land. When morning came, the east wind was carrying the locusts.  The locusts invaded Egypt, settling on all Egyptian territory. It was a very severe [plague]. Never before had there been such a locust plague, and never again [would the like be seen].

   The [locusts] covered the entire surface of the land, making the ground black. They ate all the plants on the ground and all the fruit on the trees, whatever had been spared by the hail. Nothing green remained on the trees and plants throughout all Egypt.

   Pharaoh hastily summoned Moses and Aaron. "I have committed a crime," he said, "both to God your Lord and to you. Now forgive my offense just this one more time. Pray to God your Lord! Just take this death away from me!"

   [Moses) left Pharaoh's presence and prayed to God. God turned the wind around, [transforming it into] a very strong west wind. It carried away the locusts, and plunged them into the Red Sea. Not a single locust remained within all Egypt's borders. But once again, God made Pharaoh obstinate, and he would not let the Israelites leave.

Darkness: The Ninth Plague

   God said to Moses, "Reach out toward the sky with your hand, and there will be darkness in Egypt. The darkness will be palpable."
   Moses lifted his hand toward the sky, and there was an opaque darkness in all Egypt, lasting for three days. People could not see each other, and no one left his place for three days. The Israelites, however, had light in the areas where they lived.
 {tab=3rd aliya} 
   Pharaoh summoned Moses. "Go!" he said. "Worship God! Even your children can go with you. Just leave your sheep and cattle behind."
   "Will you then provide us with sacrifices and burnt offerings so that we will be able to offer them to God our Lord?" replied Moses. "Our live - stock must also go along with us. Not a single hoof can be left behind. We must take them to serve God our Lord, since we do not know what we will need to worship God until we get there."
  
   God made Pharaoh obstinate, and he was no longer willing to let [the Israelites) leave. "Leave my presence!" said Pharaoh to [Moses]. "Don't dare see my face again! The day you appear before me, you will die!"
        "As you say," replied Moses. "I will not see your face again."                                                                

Preparations for the Final Plague

   God said to Moses, "There is one more plague that I will send against Pharaoh and Egypt. After that, he will let you leave this place. When he lets you leave, he will actually drive you out of here. Now speak to the people discreetly, and let each man request from his friend gold and silver articles. Let every woman make [the same] request of her friends."
  
   God gave the people status among the Egyptians. Moses was also very highly respected in Egypt, both by Pharaoh's officials and by the people.

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Death of the First-Born


   Moses said [to Pharaoh] in God's name, "Around midnight, I will go out in the midst of Egypt. Every first-born in Egypt will die, from the first- born of Pharaoh sitting on his throne, to the first-born of the slave girl behind the millstones. Every first-born animal [will also die].
"There will be a great cry of anguish throughout all Egypt. Never before has there been anything like it, and never again will there be the like.  But among the Israelites, a dog will not even whine because of man or beast. You will then realize that God is making a miraculous distinction between Egypt and Israel.                                                                                                                                                       

 “All your officials here will come and bow down to me. They will say, 'Leave! You and all your followers!' Only then will I leave.” He left Pharaoh in great anger.

 Final Reassurance

   God said to Moses, "Pharaoh will not listen to you. This is so that I will be able to do all the more wonders in Egypt."
   Moses and Aaron had done all these wonders before Pharaoh. Still, because God had made Pharaoh obstinate, he would not let the Israelites leave his land.

The Passover Described

   God said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt: This month shall be the head month to you. It shall be the first month of the year.
   Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying: On the tenth of this month, every man must take a lamb for each extended family, a lamb for each household.  If the household is too small for a lamb, then he and a close neighbor can obtain a [lamb together], as long as it is for specifically designated individuals. Individuals shall be designated for a lamb according to how much each one will eat.
  
   You must have a flawless young animal, a one-year-old male. You can take it from the sheep or from the goats. Hold it in safekeeping until the fourteenth day of this month.
  
   The entire community of Israel shall then slaughter [their sacrifices] in the afternoon. They must take the blood and place it on the two doorposts and on the beam above the door of the houses in which they will eat [the sacrifice].
  
   Eat the [sacrificial] meat during the night, roasted over fire. Eat it with matzah and bitter herbs.
   Do not eat it raw or cooked in water, but only roasted over fire, including its head, its legs, and its internal organs. 
   Do not leave any of it over until morning. Anything that is left over until morning must be burned in fire.
   You must eat it with your waist belted, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand, and you must eat it in haste. It is the Passover (Pesach) offering to God.
  
   I will pass through Egypt on that night, and I will kill every first-born in Egypt, man and beast. I will perform acts of judgment against all the gods of Egypt. I [alone] am God.
  
   The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are staying. I will see the blood and pass you by (pasach). There will not be any deadly plague among you when I strike Egypt.
  
    This day must be one that you will remember. You must keep it as a festival to God for all generations. It is a law for all time that you must celebrate it.
      Eat matzahs for seven days. By the first day, you must have your homes cleared of all leaven. Whoever eats leaven from the first day until the seventh day will have his soul cut off from Israel.
  
    The first day shall be a sacred holiday, and the seventh day shall [also] be a sacred holiday. No work may be done on these [days]. The only [work] that you may do is that which is needed so that everyone will be able to eat.
  
    Be careful regarding the matzahs, for on this very day I will have brought your masses out of Egypt. You must carefully keep this day for all generations; it is a law for all times. From the 14th day of the first month in the evening, until the night of the 2 I St day of the month, you must eat [only] matzahs. During [these] seven days, no leaven may be found in your homes. If someone eats anything leavened his soul shall be cut off from the community of Israel. [This is true] whether he is a proselyte or a person born into the nation. You must not eat anything leavened. In all the areas where you live, eat matzahs.

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Passover Preparations

    Moses summoned the elders of Israel, and said to them, "Gather [the people] and get yourselves sheep for your families, so that you will be able to slaughter the Passover sacrifice.                                              
  
    "You will then have to take a bunch of hyssop and dip it into the blood that [will be placed] in a basin. Touch the beam over the door and the two doorposts with some of the blood in the basin. Not a single one of you may go out the door of his house until morning. 
    
   "God will then pass through to strike Egypt. When he sees the blood over the door and on the two doorposts, God will pass over that door, and not let the force of destruction enter your houses to strike.
  
    "You must keep this ritual as a law, for you and your children forever. When you come to the land that God will give you, as He promised, you must [also] keep this service.  Your children may [then] ask you, 'What is this service to you?'  You must answer, 'It is the Passover service to God. He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians, sparing our homes."' 
   
   The people bent their heads and prostrated themselves. The Israelites went and did as God had instructed Moses and Aaron. They did it exactly.

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 The Final Plague

   It was midnight. God killed every first-born in Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh, sitting on his throne, to the first-born of the prisoner in the dungeon, as well as every first-born animal.
  
   Pharaoh stayed up that night, along with all his officials and all the rest of Egypt. There was a great outcry, since there was no house where there were no dead. 
  
    [Pharaoh] sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. "Get moving!" he said. "Get out from among my people - you and the Israelites! Go! Worship God just as you demanded! Take your sheep and cattle, just as you said! Go! Bless me too!"

   The Egyptians were also urging the people to hurry and leave the land. "We are all dead men!" they were saying.
  
   The people took their dough before it could rise. Their leftover dough was wrapped in their robes [and placed] on their shoulders. The Israelites [also] did as Moses had said. They requested silver and gold articles and clothing from the Egyptians. God made the Egyptians respect the people, and they granted their request. [The Israelites] thus drained Egypt of its wealth.

The Exodus

    The Israelites traveled from Rameses toward Sukkoth. There were about 6oo,ooo adult males on foot, besides the children. A great mixture [of nationalities] left with them. There were [also] sheep and cattle, a huge amount of livestock.
   
   [The Israelites] baked the dough that they had brought out of Egypt into unleavened (matzah) cakes, since it had not risen. They had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had not prepared any other provisions.
   
   The lifestyle that the Israelites endured in Egypt had thus lasted 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, all of God's armies left Egypt in broad daylight. There was a night of vigil for God, [preparing] to bring them out of Egypt. This night remains for the Israelites a vigil to God for all generations.

Passover Laws

   God said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the law of the Passover sacrifice:
   "No outsider may eat it. If a man buys a slave for cash and circumcises him, then [the slave] can eat it. [But if a gentile is] a temporary resident or a hired hand, he may not eat [the Passover sacrifice]. "It must be eaten by a single group. Do not bring any of its meat out of the group. Do not break any of its bones.

   "The entire community of Israel must keep [this ritual]. When a proselyte joins you and wants to offer the Passover sacrifice to God, every male [in his household] must be circumcised. He may then join in the observance, and be like a native-born [Israelite]. But no uncircumcised man may eat [the sacrifice]. The same law shall apply both for the native-born [Israelite] and for the proselyte who joins you." All the Israelites did as God had instructed Moses and Aaron. They did it exactly.

Leaving Egypt

   On that very day, God took the Israelites out of Egypt in organized groups.

{tab=7th aliya}

Commemorating the Exodus

   God spoke to Moses, saying,  "Sanctify to Me every first-born that initiates the womb among the Israelites. Among both man and beast, it is Mine."
   Moses said to the people: Remember this day as [the time] you left Egypt, the place of slavery, when God brought you out of here with a show of force. No leaven may be eaten. You left this day, in the month of standing grain.
  
   There will come a time when God will bring you to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Yebusites. He swore to your ancestors that He would give it to you - a land flowing with milk and honey. [There too] you will have to keep this service. Eat matzahs for seven days, and make the seventh day a festival to God. Since matzahs must be eaten for [these] seven days, no leaven may be seen in your possession. No leaven may be seen in all your territories. On that day, you must tell your child, "It is because of this that God acted for me when I left Egypt." 
   [These words] must also be a sign on your arm and a reminder in the center of your head.
   God's Torah will then be on your tongue. It was with a show of strength that God brought you out of Egypt. This law must therefore be kept at its designated time from year to year.

Consecration of the First-Born

   There will come a time when God will have brought you to the land of the Canaanites, which he promised you and your ancestors, and he will have given it to you. You will then bring to God every [first-born] that initiates the womb. Whenever you have a young firstling animal, the males belong to God.

   Every firstling donkey must be redeemed with a sheep. If it is not redeemed, you must decapitate it.

   You must [also] redeem every first-born among your sons.

   Your child may later ask you, "What is this?" You must answer him, "With a show of power, God brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery.  When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, God killed all the first- born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I therefore sacrifice to God all male first- ling [animals], and redeem all the first-born of my sons."

   [These words] shall [also] be a sign on your arm and an insignia in the center of your head.
   [All this] is because God brought us out of Egypt with a show of strength.

 Б-г сообщил Моше, что упорство фараона вызвано предопределением свыше, ибо, благодаря сверхъестественным чудесам, мир убедился раз и навсегда в том, что Он истинный Б-г. Моше и Аарон предупредили фараона о казни саранчой и описали, насколько суровой она будет. Фараон согласился отпустить только мужчин, но Моше настаивал на том, чтобы из Египта вышел весь народ.

Во время казни фараон попросил Моше и Аарона удалить саранчу и признал, что согрешил. Б-г прекратил казнь, однако опять ожесточил сердце фараона, и тот в который раз передумал и отказался отпустить сынов Израиля. Тогда вся страна, за исключением еврейских домов, погрузилась в густой мрак.

Фараон в страхе вызвал Моше и разрешил ему вывести из Египта всех евреев, но при условии, что они оставят свой скот. Моше ответил, что не только свой скот они возьмут с собой, но и фараону, если он будет упорствовать, придется отдать им свой скот для искупительных жертв. Моше предупредил фараона, что Б-г намеревается наслать на египтян еще одну казнь, смерть первенцев, после которой он сам придет умолять, чтобы сыны Израиля покинули Египет.

Но Б-г еще больше ожесточил сердце фараона, и тот пригрозил Моше, что если он еще раз к нему явится, его предадут смерти. Б-г дал Моше заповедь о календаре, установив, что месяц Нисан будет первым месяцем года, а также повелел всем евреям в десятый день этого месяца взять овцу и стеречь ее до четырнадцатого дня. После этого овцу следовало принести в жертву, названную 'песах', ее кровью помазать косяки дверей, а зажаренное мясо съесть. Кровь на дверном косяке должна была быть знаком для Б-га, чтобы Он, поражая первенцев, миновал ('пасах') иx дома. Этот день должен был навсегда остаться в памяти евреев как Песах - день Исxода из Египта, одной из особенностей которого является отказ от употребления в пищу квасного. Моше передал евреям повеления Б-га, и все было безоговорочно выполнено. После того, как Б-г навел на египтян последнюю казнь, поразив всех первенцев, фараон выпустил евреев из Египта. Б-г также сообщил Моше и Аарону законы пасхального жертвоприношения и выкупа первородного сына (пидьон а-бен), а также дал заповедь о тфилин.

 

 

Rav Yitzchak Zilber (in Russian) Rabbi Dovid Grossman (in English)